Over a year ago, before Ke Jie, one of China’s and the world’s best Go players, went into battle with AlphaGo, the artificial intelligence (AI) machine developed by Google’s Deepmind team, he was confident that he would win – even though the program had defeated top South Korean Go player Lee Se-dol only two months before.
But the then 19-year-old Ke lost. In an interview with CGTN after the match, he admitted there was a problem. “AlphaGo can see the whole universe of Go, but I can only see a small pond in my backyard,” Ke said. “So, please, let it explore the universe, but let me play in my own backyard.”
But his failure against the AI program didn’t discourage Ke. In fact, it made him a better player. He saw that what set human beings and intelligent machines apart was the ability of humans to enjoy the game.
Ke set about updating his Go skills, and since then he has been unbeatable. The proof came at this year’s national league of Go in China. On Dec 12, Ke, 21, “effortlessly” – in the opinion of some news media – defeated his old rival Chen Yaoye, 29. Only a few days before that, Ke had won the 23rd Samsung Cup, becoming the youngest Go player to win six international championships.
Today’s Ke seems to feel comfortable in his own skin. As he wrote a month after his defeat to AlphaGo: “Although I lost, I discovered that the possibilities of Go are immense and that the game has continued to progress. I hope that I, too, can continue to progress, and that I will keep growing stronger.”
As a Go player, Ke is trying to be the best player he humanly can.